Book Review- methland

I recently finished reading methland by Nick Reding and really enjoyed the history and in-depth reporting of the story. Detailing the recent history of a small Iowa town, the author analyzes the economical and social factors which allowed methamphetamine to become part of life for so many in this town. With local farming operations and factory jobs no longer providing a stable income, some residents of Olwein, Iowa turn to meth in order to deal with the problem.

The author basically tells the story of a few local residents whose lives have been affected by methamphetamine. There is the former meat-packing factory worker whose stable income has been undercut by the consolidation of the food industry. There is the small-time meth producer who is able to turn a profit until she lands in jail. There are the local illegal Mexican immigrants who work for low wages in the newly consolidated factories and use meth to work overtime shifts. All of these characters serve to illustrate the far-reaching effects of the drug.

For many years, small town economies across the Midwest largely revolved around family farming operations and locally-owned businesses. This dynamic allowed a large number of people to live relatively stable lives. However, factory buyouts and the introduction of agricultural outfits caused wages to be reduced. With lower wages, more people had to work longer hours in order to make ends meet, and meth provided the energy boost to work these extra shifts… After all, Five Hour Energy had not been invented yet.

I guess I do admire the entrepreneurial spirit of those attempting to run their own meth lab, and one can only imagine the results if their efforts would have been put towards an upstanding vocation or hobby. However, money is usually the driving force for many decisions, and I’m sure this case is no different.

I currently live in Arkansas where Tysons is largely portrayed as a strong local business contributing to the state economy. However, after reading this book and hearing about their employment and business principles, I am not sure if ethics are held in the highest regard at the company. The hiring of illegal immigrants to work minimum wage for dangerous jobs does not seem entirely above-board. In addition, some in my family claim the company uses steroids to increase the size of their chickens. So again, probably not the most ethical practices… I normally buy Perdue products.


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